Vitamin A is an essential nutrient. It helps enhance vision, cell division, growth, immunity and reproduction. Vitamin A is rich in antioxidants, substances that protect your cells against the free radical effect. Free radicals play a role in diseases related to the heart, cancer etc. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and an essential part of our daily diet.
Foods rich in Vitamin A are readily available. You can find them in every kitchen.
As most people think, the benefits of vitamin A are not limited to our eyesight. It also helps maintain neurological function, healthy skin, hormonal health, and more. This group of antioxidant compounds can be of two types:
- Retinol is the type of vitamin A derived from animal sources. Therefore, the body can directly consume this ‘preformed’ vitamin.
- You get provitamin carotenoids from fruits and vegetables. This type of vitamin A is first converted into retinol right after digestion and then used by the body.
The standard reference values for vitamin A are the same for an average individual.
The values are:
- Retinol- 600 mcg
- Beta-carotene- 4800 mcg
Vegetables, fruits and some non-vegetarian food items are rich in vitamin A. This article highlights various benefits of vitamin A and its varied sources.
8 Health Benefits of Vitamin A
Amongst several known benefits of vitamin A, here are a few:
1. Helps Improve Eyesight
Vitamin A is known to treat weak eyesight. Regular consumption of vitamin A enhances night vision and reduces the risk of night blindness. In addition, it provides extra care and protection that your delicate eyes require. Retinol and beta carotene in vitamin A helps improve eyesight and maintain good eye health.
2. It Helps Improve Bone and Dental Health.
Vitamin A deficiency impacts oral health. It can lead to periodontitis (gum infection) and gingivitis (gum inflammation). It can further result in tooth decay and cavities. Therefore, vitamin A is crucial for teeth repair and health.
Research says that the right amount of vitamin A can help improve one’s bone and teeth strength. However, it is only possible if your body gets adequate vitamin A. Furthermore, vitamin A deficiency may increase the risk of fractures, while the correct amount can protect the body from fractures.
3. It Promotes Muscle Growth.
You should include foods with plenty of vitamin A in your diet. It helps prevent the development of muscular dystrophy. Vitamin A also aids in muscle protein synthesis and repair muscle damage. Thus, it promotes muscle growth and prevents muscle wasting.
4. Boosts Immune System
We know the importance of a robust immune system. Vitamin A increases lymphocytic responses that fight disease-causing antigens with its antioxidant compounds. It results in boosting your immune system. Hence, it is fair to say that vitamin A helps build immunity.
5. Nourishes and Keeps Hair Healthy
Beta carotene converts into vitamin A in the body. It is an essential nutrient linked to the health of many tissues like hair, skin, and sebaceous glands (oil glands in the skin). For example, a study shows that dietary vitamin A accelerates hair growth by activating the stem cells in hair follicles.
6. It Benefits Your Skin.
Many people face common skin problems like dullness, dryness, scars, and wrinkles. Vitamin A and its derivative retinoid play a key role in many cellular processes. For example, the growth and differentiation of cells. Studies show that retinoids stimulate new cells, promoting firmer, healthier, and younger-looking skin.
7. It May Lower the Risk of Cancer.
Many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cancers, and heart diseases, are linked to free radical damage. It is because the body produces free radicals during metabolism. In addition, external sources such as cigarette smoke and air pollution add to free radical production. Neutralise these free radicals to promote good health and reduce cancer risk.
8. Maintains Healthier Reproductive Health
Vitamin A is also essential for maintaining the male genital tract and spermatogenesis. Vitamin A helps initiate meiosis in the female gonad during embryogenesis. Similarly, it helps create meiosis in the male gonad postnatally. Studies prove that proper intake of vitamin A helps maintain the reproductive health of both men and women. It reduces the chances of miscarriage and helps in protecting the embryo.
Vitamin A Rich Foods
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, and you should ideally consume it with fats. Therefore, it is best to get vitamin A from a balanced diet. Fortunately, you can get vitamin A from many foods, including fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Here is a list of foods rich in Vitamin A.
Vitamin A in carrots is in the form of beta-carotene, a healthy antioxidant. So eating plenty of carrots can improve your vision. One medium raw carrot contains 10190 international units of vitamin A, which is a little more than twice the daily requirement of an average adult.
Nutritional value for 100 grams carrots:
- Calories – 33.22 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 5.55 grams
- Protein – 0.95 grams
- Fat – 0.47 grams
- Fibre – 4.18 grams
- Vitamin A – 1890 mcg
Sweet potatoes are low on calories, delicious and are rich in nutrients. They are amongst the best sources of vitamin A, accounting for over 400% of the daily human requirement. Include sweet potatoes in your daily diet to vastly improve your vitamin intake.
Nutritional value for 100 grams sweet potatoes:
- Calories – 86 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 20.1 grams
- Protein – 1.6 grams
- Fat – 0.33 grams
- Fibre – 4.61 grams
- Vitamin A – 14,187 IU
Tomatoes are amongst the most common ingredients in Indian cuisine. Fortunately, they are amongst the best sources of antioxidants and vitamins. A medium-sized tomato can account for 20% of the body’s daily vitamin A requirement. In addition, tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C and lycopene.
Nutritional value for 100 grams tomatoes:
- Calories – 19.89 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 2.71 grams
- Protein – 0.90 grams
- Fat – 0.47 grams
- Fibre – 1.77 grams
- Vitamin A – 351 mcg
Eating a lot of vegetables is beneficial in many ways. They are low in calories and packed with nutrients. In addition, they are relatively easy to prepare. Green vegetables like methi leaves, lettuce, spinach, and kale are excellent sources of vitamin A. They are also great sources of several nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and manganese.
Pea is versatile, and everyone loves the vegetable. It is primarily a winter season crop, and people make many delicious foods using peas. Seventy grams serving of peas provides for more than the body’s daily vitamin requirement, and only 65 calories. Along with vitamin A, peas are rich in vitamin C, K, and B.
Nutritional value for 100 grams peas:
- Calories – 81.26 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 11.88 grams
- Protein – 7.25 grams
- Fat – 0.13 grams
- Fibre – 6.32 grams
- Vitamin A – 765 IU
The king of fruits, mango is a delicious fruit rich in nutrients. A medium-sized mango provides about 73% of the body’s daily requirements. Hence, it can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet.
Nutritional value for 100 grams mangoes:
- Calories – 60 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 14.96 grams
- Protein – 0.84grams
- Fat – 0.36 grams
- Fibre – 1.57 grams
- Vitamin A – 2743 mcg
Papaya is a widely available fruit throughout the year. It is rich in vitamin A, fibre and other essential vitamins and minerals. It is also effective in relieving constipation.
Nutritional value for 100 grams papaya:
- Calories – 42.75 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 11.03 grams
- Protein – 0.48 grams
- Fat – 0.27 grams
- Fibre – 2.83 grams
- Vitamin A – 666 mcg
Orange is a citrus fruit, which is rich in vitamin C. However, many people are unaware that it is also a rich source of vitamin A, potent antioxidants, fibre, etc.
Nutritional value for 100 grams orange:
- Calories – 37.28 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 7.92 grams
- Protein – 0.7 grams
- Fat – 0.13 grams
- Fibre – 1.29 grams
- Vitamin A – 1104 mcg
Milk and Milk Products:
Milk is rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. It also contains sufficient vitamin A. A single cup of milk provides 395 international units of vitamin A. Low-fat milk is an excellent alternative to regular milk if you aim to lose weight.
Milk products like yoghurt, cheese, butter also are rich in vitamin A. So while purchasing a dairy product rich in vitamin A, you can opt for the one fortified with vitamin A.
A single serving of egg yolk contains 1442 international units of vitamin A, making egg yolk a rich source of vitamin A. The protein in the eggs is in a biologically active form. Protein and vitamin A will help you get stronger bones and teeth.
Nutritional value for 1 egg:
- Calories – 77 kcal
- Protein – 6.3 grams
- Saturated fats – 5.3 grams
- Carbohydrates- 0.6 grams
- Vitamin A – 64 mcg
Seafood like tuna, oyster, salmon, and mackerel are excellent sources of vitamin A. 100 gram serving of tuna can provide 50% of the body’s daily requirement. Rich in omega3 fatty acids, seafood can help improve retinal health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Two servings of seafood weekly are ideal.
Consuming the above foods can improve the vitamin A content in the body. As discussed earlier, the right amount of vitamins can benefit the body. So, make the right choices for your health today.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness, retinal damage, and corneal ulcers. In addition, low consumption of vitamins can also lead to an increased risk of viral infections and respiratory illnesses. Conversely, consuming the vitamin in excess can also lead to liver disease, loss of appetite and nausea. Vitamin A deficiency is common in people living in developing countries.
Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency
- Vision-related issues like night blindness
- Frequent infections
- Skin issues like dryness, scaling, itching etc.
- Fertility issues
- Slow bone growth in children
- Delayed wound healing
Adding vitamin A-rich foods is essential for everyone. However, remember that it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Hence, it will require some amount of fat absorption in your body. So, don’t forget to add a teaspoon of olive oil to your carrot or tomato salad for premium vitamin A absorption.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Which foods have the most vitamin A?
A. Animal liver, egg, milk, tomatoes, mango etc., have the most amount of Vitamin A.
Q. Which fruit is rich in vitamin A?
A. Mango is highly rich in vitamin A. In addition, fruits like oranges and papayas are also good sources of vitamin A.
Q.Which vegetables are rich in vitamin A?
A. Carrot, spinach, tomato and peas etc., are rich in vitamin A.
Q. Why is vitamin A good for the skin?
A. Its beta carotene content is responsible for the same. It nourishes and helps in repairing skin cells.
Q. Is carrot rich in vitamin A?
A. Yes, carrots are a rich source of vitamin A. 100 grams of vitamin A contains 835 mcg that is 93% of your daily vitamin A requirement.
Q. Is banana rich in vitamin A?
A. No. Banana has many benefits, but it does not have a high vitamin A content. For example, eating one banana gives you 144mcg vitamin A.
Q. What happens if you don’t have enough vitamin A?
A. Vitamin A deficiency may lead to vision problems and night blindness.
Q. How does vitamin A help the immune system?
A. It has antioxidants that help boost the immune system and fight diseases in the body.
Q. What is the deficiency of vitamin A?
A. When your body does not get enough vitamin A to function, it results in many issues. Primarily, these issues are related to vision.
Q. How can I get vitamin A naturally?
A. You can get vitamin A by consuming foods that are rich in vitamin A properties like carrots, sweet potato, cod liver oil, salmon etc.
Q. Is too much vitamin A harmful?
A. Yes, excessive Vitamin A can lead to bone softening and fractures. It can also be harmful to your liver and even cause birth defects in case of consumption by a pregnant woman.
Q. Is honey a source of vitamin A?
A. No, honey isn’t a mentionable source of Vitamin A.
Q. Which is the best source of vitamin A?
A. Animal liver is the best source of vitamin A for non-vegetarians. However, if you are a vegetarian, you can have fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A.